Construction Today - May 2017 - 17
From Wired to Wireless
Where once many construction jobs required
the use of heavy hardware, phones and other
mobile devices can get the work done faster,
cheaper and easier. The work can happen
anywhere, from a meeting room to a job site
to your kitchen table.
Yet, most of us working with clients in the
field still rush around with a giant backpack
full of clunky laptops, an assortment of
cables and power supplies, a projector, paper
and pens, and backup battery packs. If it's
not in that bag, we don't have access to it,
unless we can find a Wi-Fi connection and
log into our office-based systems via a flaky
Let's face it: Our clients are not impressed.
They, like all of us, live in a world where they
can decide one minute that they want to buy
a new pair of running shoes, and like magic,
a pair will appear at their door the very next
day. In an era of instant gratification, clients
expect to get what they want, now.
Mobility solutions for the construction
industry exist, but they haven't yet been
adopted for widespread, daily use. We've al-
ready got affordable, lightweight mobile devices that let us connect
anytime from anywhere. We're already having web meetings. And
increasingly, the data we need to do our work is moving to the cloud,
where it can be centrally located and accessible by any authorized
What we need is for all of those things to come together, like they
did for Jeff in that meeting that he conducted entirely on his phone.
Most of the technology is there, so why isn't it already happening?
* Risk aversion - In a traditionally slow-growth, low-profit-margin business like general contracting, there's not much
financial wiggle room for investing in new and unproven
technology. GCs feel like they're already flirting with risk every
time they take on a job. Cloud data and mobility come with a
learning curve, as well as security risks that must be managed.
The old reliable hardware is a sure bet, and it's paid for, so many
companies will stick with it until it dies - long past the point
when it becomes obsolete.
* Cost - Jumping from wired to wireless is an expensive proposition, and the only way to do it is to do it all at once. That
means everyone in the office gets a new device. Everyone
gets a software license and training on the new, standardized
platforms. And you'll have to start paying monthly or annual
fees to centralize and secure all your data in the cloud. Put it all
together and you've got a big, ongoing investment.
Beck Technology, Stewart Carroll
runs all aspects of the
strategy and vision, and
the use of its technology.
He has been a lead A/E/C
technologist for well
over a decade and continually speaks on the
integration of cost and
scoping technologies to
owners and developers.
solutions for the
construction industry exist, but
haven't been adopted widely.
MAY 2017 CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM
quickly navigating to the client's estimate.
The client and Chad appear on Jeff 's screen.
They exchange pleasantries, and Jeff shares
his screen. He brings up his web browser and
walks the client through his budget and integrated takeoff, showing the project by area,
and the corresponding costs by area. Along
the way, Jeff shows critical project metrics,
like the gross floor area, the project rentable
area, the area of each floor, the floor-to-skin
ratio, and how the metrics on this project
compare to other similar projects.
The client is blown away by how quickly
Jeff can react and how much data Jeff can
provide in a one-hour meeting. He says he's
ready to move forward with the project and
asks about next steps. There are a few things
we can learn from this comparison: Not only
is mobility good for the blood pressure and
kids who love their Dad's pancakes, it's good